A FAMILY are living in fear arsonists who destroyed their car may return and cause a tragedy.

The vehicle, a Saab 95 Aero, was parked outside the home in Pitseaville Grove, Basildon when a yob set it alight.

The car was parked very close to the house and near a gas point, so serious fears have been raised a tragedy was narrowly avoided.

The father-of-three, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It’s absolutely disgusting.

“We could have died, we have a gas boiler and if that had exploded it could have taken out half the street.

“It was scary.

“I was meant to have my two younger daughters with me that night and am glad I didn’t as they would have been so scared.

“I am gutted about my losing my car as it was in good condition and had sentimental value as I got from my brother.

“I am now worried that when I get another car that this could happen again or it could even happen to someone else.

“It is so scary to think that we could have died, I am so glad we’re ok.

“I have lived here for about 10 years and we’ve never had anything like this happen here.

“My insurance company is now dealing with this and I don’t know what the outcome will be.”

He said the person who did this didn’t think at all the consequences of their actions.

He said he and his son suddenly noticed the car was on fire and were forced to flee out of the back door.

Neighbours spoke of hearing a bang just moments after the car was set on fire.

A mother living nearby, who asked not to be named, called the fire brigade.

She said: “This is the latest in a string of incidents where people are setting fire to rubbish, motorbikes and even now cars.

“It is affecting our family, I have an autistic son and he is scared.

“I am even taping up my letter box up as I am worried something could be put through the letter box.

“There were quite a few people in the street watching the car fire.

“I think there were even people harassing the firefighters as they were putting out the fire, they were throwing items at the fire crews. That’s not good.”

Essex Fire and Rescue Service confirmed firefighters were called to the incident and the fire was deliberate.

Police officers are now appealing for witnesses.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We were contacted by the fire service about a fire involving a vehicle in Pitseaville Grove, Basildon at about 2.10am on New Year’s Day.

“It involved a blue Saab 9-5 and is being treated as arson.

“If you have any information please call us on 101 quoting the crime reference number 42/374/19 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”